City Refuses Hookup for Orchard

By: Tim Schmidt
Posted 11/7/19

The aldermen made the decision at last week's meeting after hearing arguments from John Lochirco, one of the owners Lochirico Fruit and Produce, owner of Happy Apples. The board said company …

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City Refuses Hookup for Orchard


The aldermen made the decision at last week's meeting after hearing arguments from John Lochirco, one of the owners Lochirico Fruit and Produce, owner of Happy Apples. The board said company officials should have approached the city before the expansion project began on the property, located off Highway 47, just outside Marthasville city limits. Happy Apples, which makes caramel-coated apples at a warehouse off of Highway 47 between Washington and Union, grows apples at an orchard on the property outside of Marthasville. They also make cider. "To me it's more like asking for forgiveness than permission," Mayor Dale Verges said at the meeting. At last week's meeting, Lochirco requested five toilets, five hand sinks and one urinal be connected to the city's sewage system. City officials questioned why Lochirco didn't get approval before construction began. A building permit for two buildings and the relocation of another had been applied for by Lochirco with the county planning and zoning office Nov. 4, 2008. Happy Apples representatives didn't meet with the city until earlier this year and by then a large part of the construction project was under way, according to city officials. Aldermen said they were concerned more production would occur at the orchard. Currently, most of the apples are shipped to the Franklin County facility. Lochirco told the board apple cider will be processed in a portion of one of the buildings. He said another new building will be used for storing apples in a cooler. Thirty people are expected to be employed at the location. Lochirco, however, said there must have been a "misunderstanding" when his father, Steve Lochirco, approached Tim Flagg, the city's water and sewer superintendent, previously about the hookups. But aldermen said that a final decision must always come to the board and emphasized that Happy Apples should have approached the board during the initial planning process. "This should have been thought of last year at this time," Alderman Leo Tobben stated. "I'm sure this wasn't a whimper to put up a new building. We found out after the building was going up." Lochirco told board members he his waiting on a DNR permit to be able to field apply the additional wastewater not connected to the domestic waste line. He said DNR has given him a verbal approval for the field use, but the city officials stressed that a permit must be awarded before they take any action. "What we're hoping to do is put in a holding tank and pump it through our irrigation system and pump it into the field," Lochirco said. "We have another line for domestic waste." City officials said they are concerned how the city's system would handle the increase if they added another sewer line. Flagg noted that the city's lagoon is running at 85 percent capacity. In addition, an agreement for 60 new homes also has been reached between the city and developers. "We have to protect our system," Flagg said. Lochirco also questioned why the previous sewer agreement was terminated. "We didn't violate anything," he said. Verges said the previous agreeement did not include any additional sewer hookups. Upon learning that the sewer line to the trailers was disconnected due to the current construction project, the board agreed the sewer line wasn't needed at this time. Lochirco said employees who live at the residential trailers at the orchard won't be moving in until Aug. 1. Apple picking will soon follow around Aug. 9. City attorney Chris Graville noted that since Happy Apples is located outside city limits, the city is not entitled to accept any of their waste. "The board sets their limits," he said. "It's a one-side negotiation."